Thursday, November 29, 2012

Growing Up Proud


I had to squeeze my grocery dollars until the eagles grinned this week, but I was determined to redeem at least two of my Fashion Madness dolls from the layaway shelf in my closet.  Members of the Rock Star Madness band who represent Kenya and her friends were scheduled to appear at two local Family Dollar stores this afternoon so I knew it was time to do a post about these beautiful dolls.

 

The Family Dollar location where I met the members of the band is just a few blocks north of Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University, a cluster of  institutions that have educated generations of African American leaders.  Thus it was extremely gratifying to see Family Dollar taking leadership in providing products that enable African American children to identify with positive images of themselves.  "Growing Up Proud" is the motto of the Kenya doll brand, so "Proud to Be Me" is the first single released by the Rock Star Madness Band.  You can download the song for free here

I arrived a little before the performers and was pleased to see that the store had a plentiful supply of Kenya dolls right up front:


"I wish I had brought my daughter," said one man when he realized that the four talented artists were posing for pictures and signing autographs.


Shanica Knowles is Kenya.


Ryan McDaniel is Kenya's boyfriend, TJ.


Kia Hampton is Kenya's best friend, Denise.


Jonathan McDaniel is TJ's cousin, Dwayne.


Atlanta was the last stop on this promotional tour, but aspiring rock stars can win a chance to perform with the band by submitting their versions of "Proud to Be Me" to the Kenya talent contest.


I brought the Fashion Madness Rock Star and Riviera dolls with me, but I plan to de-box them as soon as I can squeeze more money out of the grocery budget so the band members were obliging enough to autograph the back of my receipt instead.


Korean war veteran, Donald Levine carved the first G.I. Joe prototype for Hasbro in 1963.  In 1975 he left to start his own toy company.  By molding an adorable face with African American features, Levine's company created a smash hit with its Kenya doll in 1992. Production ceased in 1996 due to a failed licensee change.  Fortunately Donald Levine and his son Neil have organized the Kenya's World, LLC to re-launch this historic brand and Family Dollar, one of the fastest-growing discount retail chains in the country, is offering four styles of Kenya dolls this holiday season. 

African Americans have long been subjected to a multi-media barrage of negative images distorting their culture, history, and physical appearance so it is exciting to see Kenya's World using an innovative, three platform marketing approach that aims to create a movement with a message of respect, responsibility and educational growth.  In an interview with Julee Wilson of The Huffington Post, Neil Levine detailed plans for Kenya television programming, films, mobile applications, and music albums.  So with dolls like Kenya, role models like Shanica Knowles, and a variety of media images reflecting their multi dimensional beauty, another generation of little brown girls is growing up proud.


Now if they would just hurry up and release TJ and Dwayne!
 
À Bientôt

18 comments:

  1. Great post, Paulette! Meeting the breathing dolls had to be a treat. Did they know or did you think to ask when TJ, Dwayne, Denise, and Keyshia will be released?

    I am thrilled that little brown girls have more positive doll choices that are readily accessible in their communities. I applaud Levine for his foresight and will continue to support the company as you have done with this informative post.

    Thank you!


    dbg

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    1. I asked but there was no word about when the other characters will be released.

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  2. Excellent post! Thanks so much for sharing. I was not aware of any of this and I will also continue to support the company. I purchased the one above Movin On and Fireside (the one in red and white). I am curious as to whether or not the darker skinned dolls will be a match for Mattel's darker skinned dolls.

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    1. Good question. I have deboxed Fireside. She's a good match for SIS Chandra. She is not as dark as Barbie Basics Model 04, whose life was short lived in collections 1 and 2 before Mattel axed her.

      dbg

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    2. In my next post I tried to show the three different complexions to give an idea of the Kenya dolls' potential as body donors.

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  3. Great post! I'm so sad that I missed seeing the group. I didn't know they were going to be in town. I saw them on YouTube when I went to the Kenya site a couple weeks ago. The tune is quite catchy. I, too, wonder if you asked about the release of the other three dolls. Thanks for the history lesson about this company.

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    1. I would not have known about the promotional tour if the clerk in Family Dollar hadn't told me when I was buying some of the dolls. I think the tour should have been advertised on the radio.

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  4. I am so fascinated by these dolls. I just love it when a modern toy company openly challenges the monopoly of mrs B and does so with spirit.
    Is Kenya big headed, sort of like My Scene dolls? Are you perhaps planning to do some head swaps on them? If so I would be very very grateful if you could shed some light on the type of neck knob and overall quality and build of the bodies. I have some gorgeous black dolls who are in dire need of an articulated body and seeing as I live in Europe it would be ungodly expensive to get a Kenya or two imported to me. Information and pictures out there are pretty scarce :)

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    1. Hi Alrunia,

      Yes, Kenya has a big head. In my next post I included a picture of the neck prong. Maybe the dolls will get popular enough to be marketed in Europe as well.

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  5. I loved this doll,Kenya,she comes with such cool fashion and attitude!!Nice post.
    Btw I was missing your posts...glad to see u back into posting!! :D

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    1. Hi Pam,

      Over Thanksgiving I got motivated to sew for myself instead of for my dolls. I made three skirts and three pairs of pants but that didn't leave time to do any posts. Thanks for your comments!

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  6. Thanks for this information, Limbe Dolls! I look forward to seeing the little sister and Kenya's friends. Neat.

    The live "models" look "fresh-faced" attractive.

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    1. The live "models" make me feel very old. Shanica Knowles who plays Kenya just turned 22.

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  7. Hello from Spain: I like Kenya dolls. The leopard print coat is very chic. How fortunate that you could know about this band. Seems very good that you can buy these dolls AA. Keep in touch

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    1. Hi Marta,

      The leopard coat is my favorite too.

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  8. Wow! Great! I don't think they came here :(. I would have love to see them. I glad you got to. I am hoping to see TJ doll. It seems he hasn't been shipped any where. I am hoping to get more dolls after the holiday. Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Ms. Leo,

      I felt really lucky that I got the chance to see the Rock Star Madness band members. I hope they get to be big stars!

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  9. Even though I'm Native American I LOVE to collect fashion dolls of different colors! I am so excited to see that Kenya is back!!!! Can't wait to get them all!

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